Bernie Sanders, the standard bearer of the Democratic Party’s Left wing, has poured scorn on Donald Trump’s first address to Congress, dismissing claims that the speech marked a resetting of the image of the troubled administration.
In a 14-minute video posted to Facebook, the veteran Senator – who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination last year – railed against Mr Trump for what he said… and for what he didn’t say.
He condemned the president for failing to mention how he will protect benefits for the less well-off and for omitting any mention of climate change.
This is the battle many grass-roots Democrats want to see: an opposition slugging it out with the president for the populist vote, rather than trying to win support from the centre.
“Let me be very clear in stating that I think those priorities are wrong,” he said. “We should not be cutting massively programmes for people in need and then significantly expanding spending for the military.”
The money he said could be used to provide free tuition at every public college or university in the country.
Before the speech even started he dismissed briefings that Mr Trump was preparing a message of unity. He pointed out that the president’s guests included relatives of people murdered by illegal immigrants.
“He is stirring up fear and hatred against immigrants and trying to divide our nation. That is his political strategy and we must not allow him to get away with it,” he said.
Although the Democratic Party issued its own rebuttal on Tuesday night, delivered by Steve Beshear, the former governor of Kentucky, Mr Sanders’s speech offered an alternative opposition view.